Women of Aviation Worldwide Week Member Profile: Jackson Sisters

March 5-11 is Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. COPA is proud to support this and the many other initiatives that work tirelessly to promote women’s involvement in all different aspects of the aviation industry. Each day during WOAW week, we are profiling a COPA member who is promoting aviation in her own area of the industry.

Today’s WOAW member profile is the Jackson sisters – Vanessa, Sam, and Elly from BC, who are pursuing their goals as commercial pilots. We asked each what inspired them to get involved in aviation, about her plans for the future, and how she sees COPA’s role in aviation:

What Inspired You to Get Involved in Aviation

EJ: I grew up around airplanes thanks to my dad; I distinctly remember trips to Arizona and Disneyland sitting in the back seat of a Centurion when I was 6 years old. I guess you could say it was only a matter of time, although it was only recently I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career. My dad has been a huge influence and he even got his instructor rating to teach my younger sister and myself as well as we learned to fly on the C177 that my family owned.

VJ: We grew up at airports, and in planes. It always felt like home. We were fortunate to have a Dad who flew and was passionate. I can’t imagine not flying.

SJ: 1) Growing up we had the luxury of being able to hop in the family plane and fly somewhere for the day, weekend or longer.   It didn’t occur to me until I was older that this was even a luxury, but once I knew it was, I wanted to pursue it.  I always knew that our Dad was a pilot, but he never once made going to work actually seem like someone going to work.   Although always sad to leave his family, he was always excited to get paid to fly airplanes and travel the world.   It took about 10 years and a couple attempts at careers in other fields, but I finally accepted that I could not ignore the draw of aviation and the life it could allow me to live.

Tell us a short history of you aviation career up to now

EJ: I began flying in 2006, but life got in the way as it does. I didn’t start getting into aviation until April 2011 when I worked ramp for a local regional airline. After getting qualified to tow, working cargo and learning all I could for 3 years I decided this is what I wanted to do full time. I then switched jobs to be closer to Langley regional airport, began flying as much as I could. Finished my PPL, then my CPL, then the multi engine rating and finally the IFR rating, all the while learning tailwheel on the Vans aircraft RV-6 that my dad built. Still not able to land that first job I then turned to the instructor rating and two days after my flight test I had a job. Instructing for 8 months and obtaining my Class 3 instructor rating, I ended up getting an interview for a regional carrier and am currently in training for a B1900D as a first officer.

VJ: Completed my private on our own aircraft. Then enrolled and completed the BCIT Aviation program. Upon completion flew a 172 for a year, then a twin otter at Borek for two years before moving to a charter company on a Beech 1900. After two years at charter moved over to Air Georgian on the 1900, and now am finally making my last step and moving on to a large airline.

SJ: No career as of yet, still in the training stages

What is your favorite part of the job?

EJ: For instructing the best part of the job was the satisfaction of seeing a student succeed. Its so rewarding for them to learn something and accomplish what they set out to do, although I can almost guarantee it was more satisfying for me! I can distinctly remember a time my student (a girl) preformed an exercise so well I was ecstatic and she began to giggle as I probably was embarrassing her (good thing the tower couldn’t hear me)

As for the current career move, I cannot comment much although with how hard the road is to get there, the reward must be that much sweeter. Looking forward to flying into and above the clouds in a more complex aircraft in a multi crew environment as well as getting passengers to their destination. An added highlight to this career move is the first Captain I get to fly with is my older sister Vanessa Jackson!

VJ: Besides the amazing office view, I love the different people I work with every day. Each day has it’s own unique challenges, and everyone works together to help a flight operate safely and efficiently.

SJ: I imagine getting paid to do something you’d otherwise pay to do would be pretty great

Do you have any future goals in aviation?

EJ: As for the future all I can see is my current career move at the moment to a turbo prop aircraft and I will learn as much as I can. Maybe one day I would like to get into the jet world, preferably a 737 if I can land it (pun intended), As for the hobby side of it, I am getting into basic aerobatics in the RV-6 and am getting hooked (we will see how much time I have for that with the current job)

VJ: My goal is just always to excel in what I do. To always be advancing my skills and knowledge. I thoroughly enjoy training and would love to continue line indoctrination at a large company in the future.

SJ: My present plan is to get my float rating, work my way up to flying Beavers and Otters on floats and then after years of experience and persistence, to end up flying the Goose on the British Columbia coast.  After years of flying the beautiful old Goose, my goal is to work my way up to flying DC3’s. There’s something beautiful and enticing about the old girls that I can’t ignore.

What do you do in your spare time?

EJ: In my spare time I really enjoy riding motorcycles and that has been a huge part of my life as well as spending time with a horse that I rescued when I was in high school and painting/drawing, beyond that, just being outdoors and exploring has me pretty content.

VJ: My spare time is usually spent enjoying time with my Husband (who also flies for a living) and relaxing at home with a bunch of large rowdy dogs. We also have horses and enjoy riding and relaxing when weather allows.

SJ: Most of my spare time is spent with my dog, exploring the beautiful British Columbia coast by foot, bike, motorcycle or air as well as participating in Animal Activism

What are you doing to encourage other girls and women to get into aviation?

EJ: I help bring my dads aircraft to the Abbotsford airshow with my sister so we can display them there. Always a good opportunity to have young girls see the aircraft and be surprised that we actually get to fly them! With instructing i thoroughly enjoy teaching young girls that they can fly just as well as anyone else and if the opportunity arises that I can take someone for some aileron rolls in the RV then I am more than happy to do so!

Would really like to participate in more women in aviation events although this year has been tough with my training. I certainly won’t hesitate to do them in the future!

VJ: I encourage women in aviation I meet and new first officers I fly with because they are just as good at this job as their male coworkers. I work a lot and have not had much opportunity to actively participate in groups or events to bring more women into the aviation industry, but at my current position as a line indoctrination captain I get to train up the newest airline pilots and even my younger sister this month!

SJ: Since I’m not yet a paid pilot, my current career choice doesn’t get to come up as often as I like with women. Whenever the occasion arises that aviation IS the subject I take the opportunity to talk with women or girls to hopefully light a flame for a passion

What does COPA mean to you? What are some of the ways the organization might help women get their start in aviation?

EJ: COPA is a community backing Pilots and what aviation means so much to them. The freedom that aircraft bring and the big sense of community. Women just need support in a male dominated sport/career and to show that it is an obtainable goal. I think COPA would be an easy leg up for these women looking to take to the skies and to show that you just have to go for it!

VJ: Copa to me means a group. More specifically of people who all share an interest and are willing to help new generations grow together. Through events and information to get the word out about aviation and the world we all love. Copa could help women in aviation by attracting more women to aviation. Through events where there can be speakers and presentations, to visiting flight schools and featuring women in newsletters. There are many up and coming female pilots and I have no doubt there will be more in the future. ”

SJ: It’s a great organization with exposure, which can reach out to groups such as women and strengthen the image we are building for this particular career or hobby field for them. I think it’s a very necessary and beneficial association here for all pilots and owners in Canada.

Follow Elly on Instagram!